Archive for Thursday, March 26, 2015

Grass fires commonplace in recent days in Tonganoxie area

March 26, 2015

The area has been getting some much-needed rain this week, but the moisture doesn’t preclude it from being a prime candidate for grass fires.

Tonganoxie City Fire Chief Jack Holcom said many departments in the area were busy during the weekend taking on grass fires.

None was reported in Tonganoxie, but the department assisted with mutual aid to other departments in the area.

Those fires come on the heels of a scare last week in Tonganoxie.

Firefighters responded to a grass fire about 1:20 p.m. March 16 in a vacant property near Willis Drive south of U.S. Highway 24-40.

Holcom said the blaze burned about 8-10 acres of land and neared the South Park subdivision, as well as the Fall Creek Villas.

The fire’s heat damaged a cover over an RV, as well as a plastic covering over a spare tire and a wooden privacy fence.

Firefighters had to monitor the area for several hours, including at night.

“A lot of the trees and logs continued to smolder for hours and it just takes a lot of water and wetting agent to completely extinguish any smoldering,” Holcom said.

The chief said Fairmount, Reno, Stranger and Tonganoxie townships were key in providing assistance, as was Leavenworth County District 1 Fire Department.

“Also, give due credit to residents nearby with garden hoses for helping protect their property and neighboring properties from the fire threat,” Holcom said.

Tonganoxie Public Works, Tonganoxie police and the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office also assisted.

Holcom said the cause of the fire was unknown.

“Something like that is tough to determine without any eyewitnesses,” Holcom said. “We suspect it could have been an accidental fire started by someone for some unknown reason.”

Holcom said the rain has been welcomed, but all it does is dampen the soil at this point. Plants and trees still are dry internally.

The National Forestry Service put out a warning recently that the area would continue to be extremely dry.

Holcom offered some tips to help reduce the possibility of grass fires, including:

• Follow your city and county procedures for obtaining burn permits.

• When the area is on high fire danger or extreme high fire alert, agencies won’t be allowing burn permits

• If you are issued a burn permit, please have a water source nearby. If it gets out of control, be aware of surrounding areas.

• Monitor wind conditions. It doesn’t take much for a small fire to get away and threaten other people’s property and belongings.

• Don’t leave any ornamental (burn pits, cooling fires) or cooking fire unattended.

“We all enjoy grilling out on the deck, but don’t leave it unattended,” Holcom said. “It doesn’t take much in these dry, hot conditions.

• Be careful discarding smoking materials such as cigarettes or cigars.

• As storm season approaches, be cognizant of even lightning strikes causing tree fires.

• Anyone with questions about fire safety can call the Tonganoxie Fire Department at 913-845-9494.

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